Racism, Alive and Well

Listen to this a conversation between Fred Barnes and Bill Bennett.

BARNES: I think you can make the case that she's one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously.BENNETT: Yeah, well, maybe so. Did she get into Princeton on affirmative action, one wonders.BARNES: One wonders.BENNETT: Summa Cum Laude, I don't think you get on affirmative action. I don't know what her major was, but Summa Cum Laude's a pretty big deal.BARNES: I guess it is, but you know, there's some schools and maybe Princeton's not one of them, where if you don't get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you're a D+ student.

BENNETT: That aint one of them, I know, because Ive got two boys there and thats the grade deflation thanks to your buddy and my buddy Robbie George. He started, he said theyre grading too high. Now this may have been before the grade deflation thing, but theyve had a movement there at Princeton to cut those grades way down.

To the bigot, all facts must be twisted to fit the preconceived conclusion -- in this case, that an accomplished Latina must be "not the smartest" (as Barnes put it the night before) and the beneficiary of affirmative action. As it turns out, one of my colleagues is a Princeton alum, and he assures me that Summa is reserved there for only the top handful of graduates. It also turns out that Sotomayor received the Pyne Prize the year she graduated from Princeton, an honor Princeton awards to one or more students each year for excellence in scholarship and leadership. According to the Daily Princetonian, it is "the highest general award bestowed by the University upon an undergraduate." To his credit, Bennett tries to set Barnes straight, although a bit half-heartedly.

Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The views expressed in the piece are his own, and should not be attributed to Cornell University or Cornell Law School.

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